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The ʿibād Of Al-Ḥīra: An Arab Christian Community In Late Antique Iraq

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the Christians of al-Ḥīra, who, according to all the sources known to us made up a significant portion of its total population and profoundly shaped its character. In the course of time, they and their monasteries became so prominent in the Arab imaginaire as to emerge as a literary topos. Being Arabs and adherents of Syriac Christianity at the same time, they maintained close contacts to their neighboring coreligionists and functioned as a cultural transmission belt between Persia, Byzantine Syria, and the Arab Peninsula. To highlight their importance within the society of al-Ḥīra, an analysis of the existing written sources will be undertaken, complemented by a brief review of the archeological material. The focus lies on the Christians' social position and on their role in the political and religious life of the region.

Keywords: al-Ḥīra; Arab Christians; Late Antique Iraq; Syriac Christianity



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